<font size="-2" face="helvetica, arial, sans"><b>large images</b> <br/><a href="/Newsroom/NewImages/Images/aqua_beautyshot.jpg">Aqua Beauty Shot</a> (244 KB JPEG) <br/><a href="/Newsroom/NewImages/Images/aqua_deploy.1.jpg">Aqua Orbiting the Earth</a> (300 KB JPEG) <br/><a href="/Newsroom/NewImages/Images/aqua_deploy.2.jpg">Aqua’s Earth-facing Deck</a> (216 KB JPEG) <br/><a href="/Newsroom/NewImages/Images/aqua_liftoff.jpg">Delta II Rocket Lifting Off</a> (44 KB JPEG) <br/><a href="/Newsroom/NewImages/Images/aqua_readytolaunch.jpg">Delta II Rocket on Launch Pad</a> (64 KB JPEG)</font>NASA’s latest Earth Observing System (EOS) satellite — <a href="http://aqua.nasa.gov" target="outlink">Aqua</a> — successfully launched Saturday morning, May 4, 2002. Aqua is dedicated to advancing scientific understanding of Earth’s water cycle and environment. Launching the Aqua spacecraft marks a major milestone in support of NASA’s mission to help us better understand and protect our planet.The images above are computer-generated models of the Aqua spacecraft and the Delta II rocket that carried the satellite into orbit. Click on either of the images to view an animation of <a href="/Newsroom/NewImages/Images/AquaLaunch.mpg">Aqua’s launch and deployment (6.9 MB)</a>. The computer models of both Aqua and the Delta II rocket were produced by Reto Stöckli, NASA Earth Observatory team, using Maya software.The Aqua spacecraft lifted off from the Western Test Range of Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., aboard a Delta II rocket at 2:55 a.m. PDT. Spacecraft separation occurred at 3:54 a.m., inserting Aqua into a 438-mile (705-kilometer) orbit.Click to read the <a href="http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20020418aqua.html" target="outlink">Aqua post-launch press release</a>.